Aaron Rodgers Suffers Achilles Tear – What is This Painful Injury?

The eagerly awaited first “Monday Night Football” game of the season took a somber turn as former Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers endured a crushing Achilles tear during his debut with the New York Jets. The injury, being revealed in an MRI and confirmed by multiple sources, may require surgery to repair and months of recovery.   

If you’re a Rodgers fan, or a football fan in general, you may be curious about this painful injury, treatment, and the time it takes to recover and get back on the field. Orthopaedic Hospital of Wisconsin orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Patrick Jost, MD, discusses Achilles tears, recovery options, and Achilles repair surgery recovery time.  

The Achilles Tendon  

The Achilles tendon is a strong, fibrous cord in the lower leg. It connects your calf muscles to your heel. It’s a large tendon in your body that helps you walk, run, and jump. The Achilles tendon can become irritated or damaged from overuse or repetitive movements. This is also known as tendinitis or tendinopathy. It can develop symptoms like pain and stiffness along your Achilles tendon and on the back of your heel. Having short or tight calf muscles can increase your risk of tendinopathy.   

What is an Achilles Tear? 

In some cases, such as with Rodgers, the Achilles tendon can tear or rupture. A tear is usually due to a sudden and strong force. It can happen during physical activity with sudden, fast movements or pivoting on your foot, such as football, basketball, tennis, soccer, and other sports.  

Achilles tears can also happen to anyone and without warning. Patients often have no symptoms prior to tearing their Achilles, and it can tear in an instant during jumping, landing, or running, frequently without contact or a collision. 

A ruptured Achilles tendon causes sharp pain in the calf as if you’ve been kicked. The leg will be weak, and it will be difficult to point the foot downward.  

Thankfully, orthopedic care has come a long way, and we now know a lot more about the best treatment for these injuries. While surgery is often the best option, many patients can heal and have a full recovery without ever having surgery.  Patients should make sure they meet with a specialist to talk about the best treatment plan for a full recovery. 

Achilles Tendon Surgery Recovery   

After surgery, it can be tempting to resume regular activities as soon as possible.  

In truth, it is vitally important to follow the steps necessary to help the body repair during surgery recovery. Post-surgery recovery includes careful directions from the surgeon. In many cases, physical therapy instruction may also be necessary. Following the instructions of a doctor and/or physical therapist will help to ensure that the surgical results are satisfactory.   

The healing time for any injury is also based on physiological factors. Recovery time can also be influenced by your age, psychological, stress, comorbidities (e.g. diabetes, peripheral artery disease, and obesity), alcohol use, use of medications, infections, type/extent of surgery, immobilization, smoking, and malnutrition. A better understanding of the influence of these factors on repair may lead to therapeutics that improve wound healing and resolve impaired wounds.   

Surgery Recovery Times  

Recovery from this surgery is lengthy.   

While the surgical wound or incision will typically heal and scar down in 2 to 3 weeks, wearing a cast or boot for 3 to 4 weeks after surgery and being non-weight-bearing is necessary. At 6 to 8 weeks (about two months), patients will be in a walking boot with gradually increasing weight bearing with guidance from a physical therapist.    

How soon a patient can return to your work depends on their job. Sedentary workers may be able to go back in 2 to 3 weeks. For people who stand at work, it may take 6 to 8 weeks (about 2 months). For those who are very physically active in your job, it may take 3 to 6 months. With athletes like Rodgers, the recovery time increases 4 to 9 months. 

If you have experienced an Achilles injury or suffer from a painful ankle condition, request an appointment with one of our orthopedic specialists today. Under their care, you can ensure a complete and impactful recovery.